In a roundabout way, the Trudeau Liberals have admitted they messed up our immigration system. After ramping up both new permanent residents and dramatically increasing the number of foreign students who have entered the country, Immigration Minister Marc Miller released a partly baked plan on Tuesday.
“The real issue is getting our acts together,” Miller said, while admitting that issues like the housing crisis is part of a failure to plan.
Miller couldn’t answer questions about key parts of his policies, including changes to the point system, allowing those in the country illegally to stay or the ability of the federal government to align jobs going unfilled with prospective immigrants. He did, however, issue several warnings about Canadians becoming coldhearted and unwelcoming towards immigrants.
“It’s something that we need to be really mindful of,” Miller said, regarding the potential for support of high immigration levels to drop.
Miller said we need to make sure that we don’t view immigrants as a drain on the system, saying that isn’t the case. What is the case, and the numbers back this up, is that immigrants are currently a strain on the system, not by their existence, but by our own inability to run our own affairs properly.
We are bringing in record numbers of people at a time wer’re still not building enough homes for those already in the country, when we don’t have enough doctors and nurses for those already here and when our infrastructure is crumbling rather than thriving. These aren’t anti-immigrant talking points; these are Canada is failing talking points.
When my parents arrived in this country in 1968, sailing into Montreal from Greenock aboard the CP Ship Empress of England, there was no housing crunch. They found an apartment quickly, moved a few times to better housing, and within five years, had purchased their first home.
Unless you arrive with a large pot of money or have several families pooling resources, that isn’t the reality today. This is why so many people are arriving in Canada and then opting to move on to another country.
“We are now seeing people who are coming to Canada and then saying, ‘Ah, no thanks,’ and moving on,” said Daniel Bernhard, chief executive of the Institute of Canadian Citizenship.
“We have to believe that the lack of availability of housing, of health care, of other types of services are part of it.”
So now, without details available, the Trudeau government is promising to take those issues into consideration while also saying that they won’t back away from their pledge to keep increasing annual immigration rates.
“We will explore options to develop a more integrated plan to coordinate housing, health care and infrastructure between federal government departments, and in close collaboration with provinces, territories and municipalities,” the new federal report says.
Exploring options is not a plan, it does not give anyone the assurance that there will be housing for them when they arrive. On the flip side, continuing to bring in a record number of people while we are short on housing, on doctors, and on nurses seems counterproductive, counterintuitive.
Yet the federal and various provincial governments will tell you that we need the record immigration to fill the jobs needed in health care and even in building new homes.
Perhaps then, the federal response should be to stop interfering in attempts by provincial governments to build new homes, which they have tried to do in Ontario for political gain.
The Trudeau Liberals have tried to have it both ways, bringing in a record number of people while also opposing the building of homes and infrastructure.
We need to find the balance, or the idea of large scale immigration will no doubt lose support.